Over Super Bowl weekend the majority of the nation rallies together to watch the biggest game of the year. I was there along with my family cheering on Denver as they upset the clear pick for the game.

While all of Denver may disagree, the strong defenses makes for a less than desired explosive game. We don’t have the dramatic back and forth that keeps everyone on the edge of their seat.

Bottom line: defense might not be sexy, but it can win games.

What if in the pro football teams developed a strong defense when it comes to our community efforts? It would have all the components of the traditional defense such as different players, measurable results and evolving plays.

Call it a, “First line of defense when it comes to giving.”

This would be more than large checks and a few player appearances. While still very beneficial to organizations, those initiatives don’t have the makings of a Super Bowl quality defense. You still might have a winning season, but you aren’t going home with the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

One team has Super Bowl worthy community outreach programs: the Philadelphia Eagles.

Interviewing Julie Hirshey, Director of Community Relations for the Philadelphia Eagles, opens a unique insight to an entire organization invested in the community. While it is always great to get the players involved in different programs throughout the community, the Eagles realize the power their high caliber staff members have to make in a nonprofit.

Can you imagine a nonprofit director sitting down and learning from a video team that produces national TV ads and promos? What about bringing in the facility teams to remodel the office?

The Philadelphia Eagles do that and more through the Eagles Care program.

Darcy Walker Krause, Director of the Center for Grieving Children in Philadelphia, describes the partnership as transformative. The Eagles Care initiative even touches to core of the organization as they craft a compelling mission statement.

Bringing in the facilities team to construct a wall or having an outside consultant oversee a lunch and learn with nonprofit employees is not sexy. In fact, most of that is behind closed doors. But just like the Denver defense that upset the favorite for the Super Bowl, it gets the job done.

The Eagles commitment to empowering community organizations a great reminder that any corporation can, and should have, different community initiatives built into their organization.

So if you are looking to build a community program with a powerful ROI and secure that first line of defense for your outreach, here are three key components from the Eagles playbook.

Initiatives & Culture Are Top Down

Part of what makes this program so successful is the commitment from the top down.

Jeff Lurie makes his support for community programs well know. Minority Christina Weiss Lurie is a dominant player in the community initiatives, even serving as the president the team’s charitable foundation the Eagles Youth Partnership.

By living out the community-minded culture at the top level, this sense of corporate responsibility and looking for ways to invest in the community spreads throughout the entire organization. It takes a variety of shapes. First, the players know that Monday, a typical day off for players throughout the league, is a day to be engaged in the community. You have players stepping in as a catalyst for their own programs, such as Connor Barwin restoring a community park.

Then these measures catch wind throughout the entire staff. Others look at current programs and ask, “How can we make a bigger impact?” or “What if we added a reading component in the schools?” and lastly, “How can I take my particular skill and help local nonprofits?”

Following a big win on game day, this is the type of momentum we need in our communities.

Listening to Actual Needs

Often community outreach programs go into a nonprofit or community program with a predetermined view of how they can help.

The Eagles Care takes a different approach. They work extremely hard to remove any preconceptions from the conversation. Sometimes this even involves coaching the nonprofit to not ask for what they think the Eagles can do.

Dream big.

Then the team works to bring it to life. It’s a new way of looking at resources. Sometimes it’s reaching out to an Eagles partner to donate a conference table. Other times it is bringing in their facilities team to do construction onsite.

Through focusing on listening, they are able to target actual needs.

Power of Partnerships

Partnerships take many forms over varying time frames. The Eagles Care limits their intensive program to five nonprofits a year. This allows them to hyper focus on impact. Additionally, after the formal program ends, they stay in touch and look for ways to continue to add value.

This is truly where the phrase, “first line of defense when it comes to giving,” comes into play.

As different opportunities come up during the year to give, the Eagles look to past nonprofit partners. One example is the extra deodorant they have at the end of the year. Who better to give it to than the Ronald McDonald House?

That’s the power of a first line of defense.

Even if you don’t have an established program today, become familiar with the work nonprofits are doing in your community. Keep this in mind as your “first line of defense”

If you are a corporation or in a larger company, I invite you to take a play out of the Eagles playbook and look for the most substantial impact your corporate responsibility initiatives can have. While today we may not have a Vince Lombardi trophy or have millions of Americans glued to watching community efforts unfold on Super Bowl Sunday, it’s what we need in America right now.